Maidstone United 2, Tranmere 3

A SPIRITED late comeback ensured Tranmere Rovers picked up an important away win at Maidstone United.

It was far from a vintage performance, as players and manager will admit, but the desire and commitment to battle until the end was there for all to see as two late goals saw a 2-1 deficit result in a 3-2 win.

A few changes were made to the side, with Stephen McNulty, Ben Tollitt and Liam Ridehalgh dropping out of the starting line-up that began against Macclesfield in midweek.

McNulty and Ridehalgh missed out through injury, Tollitt was named on the bench, while there was no Eddie Clarke through illness and Josh Ginnelly was unable to travel.

It was a very bitty start to the game with neither side taking con- trol of possession for long enough periods to build noteworthy attacks.

A couple of half chances fell to Jay Harris and Ollie Norburn for the visitors, but neither tested Lee Worgan in the Maidstone goal.

Blair Turgott had the first real opportunity for the hosts when his shot from distance stung the hands of Scott Davies who saved.

Harris intercepted a ball forward and broke into the Maidstone box on 24 minutes but he was forced off balance by a defender and his shot went off target.

The deadlock was broken soon after and it was the hosts to get the first mark on the scoreboard.

After Maidstone midfielder Jai Reason attempted to take a quick free kick which was intercepted by Ollie Norburn, the referee called play back to retake the set piece.

The second attempt by Reason was more successful, as he dinked it into the penalty area, Dean Beckwith headed towards goal, the ball hit the underside of the crossbar with Alex Finney the quickest to react and steer the ball over the line for the opening goal.

James Norwood tested Worgan from distance with a powerful drive before the visitors equalised five minutes before the break.

Adam Buxton did well to whip in a low cross with his left foot from the right, the Maidstone defence failed to clear and Andy Cook, in acres of Kent 4G artificial turf, took a touch before firing past Worgan.

No sooner had the players celebrated being back on level terms, the home side restored their one-goal advantage.

Straight from the restart, Turgott broke at pace down the left and went down under a challenge.

The referee didn't hesitate in pointing to the spot and Ross Lafayette was cool enough to send Davies the wrong way.

The goal saw the end of Jeff Hughes' afternoon, looking like a hamstring injury curtailed his involvement with his place going to Mitchell Duggan who moved in at right back, with Buxton moving to left back.

Rovers started the second half brightly, a goal down and looking for parity early on.

Jack Dunn curled a shot which forced Worgan into a save, while there were a couple of dangerous crosses into the box which Tranmere players failed to get on the end of.

Buxton forced another Worgan save before Ben Tollitt was intro- duced off the bench to replace Duggan as Micky Mellon shuffled the pack and went to a back three with wingers Tollitt and Dunn offering width as wing backs.

Norwood sliced a shot from distance wide before Andy Mangan re- placed him for the final 10 minutes.

His movement and enthusiasm paid dividends as Rovers got back on level terms on 85 minutes.

Dunn did well to send in a cross from the left, Andy Cook flicked it on towards the bubbly Mangan but a defender stuck out a leg to deny the striker getting on the end of it, however, diverting the ball into his own net.

That goal gave Rovers a visible lift and they went on the search of a winner.

A cross into the box was half cleared, Connor Jennings picked up on it and burst into the penalty area only to be felled.

The referee, again, had no hesitation. Spot kick awarded.

Buxton was the man tasked with the shot from 12 yards, and although the goalkeeper went the right way, his shot had enough power and pre- cision to hit the back of the net and send the Rovers players, staff and supporters wild.

It was a frantic end to the game with more than seven minutes added time being played.

In which time, Davies made a save, while his fellow goalkeeper came up for a succession of corners and free kicks in dangerous areas.

But the team in Belmont burgundy held on for a vital victory.

Three points which were much needed after last Tuesday’s disappointing result.

Rovers' manager Micky Mellon said: "It was very difficult, so under all the circumstances, we have to be delighted that we have come out of it with a valuable three points after the disappointment of the result on Tuesday night.

"We know the importance of bouncing back after the loss on Tuesday and the boys have dug in and achieved that."

Rovers' National League campaign continues on Saturday, against Gateshead at Prenton Park (3pm)